THE lengthy battle for the tightly contested seat of Cowan is over, with Labor’s Anne Aly claiming victory on Monday.
It came after Australian Electoral Commission staff discovered 200 ballot papers from the Tapping booth had been incorrectly attributed to Liberal MHR Luke Simpkins instead of the Greens’ Sheridan Young.
Dr Aly’s margin over Mr Simpkins had grown to 1030 yesterday, with about 5000 votes still to be counted.
Mr Simpkins conceded defeat via his Facebook page on Tuesday night, saying he had phoned his opponent to congratulate her.
He thanked his wife, daughters, staff, volunteers and people of Cowan for electing him in 2007, 2010 and 2013.
“As I always said, I only ever wanted to be a strong local representative and I am exceedingly grateful they gave me that chance,” he posted. “I am proud of what I achieved in the nine years I served as the local MP.
“I will take the opportunity in the weeks ahead to think about how best I can next serve our country or in what direction I will turn to for the future.”
Dr Aly said it had been a long wait and a “very emotional ride”.
“It’s a very proud moment for me but also a very humble moment for me,” she said.
“I look forward to working with the community in Cowan as a strong and a fair voice for them in Federal Parliament.
“I know I have a huge task ahead of me in proving that their faith in me is not misplaced and I just hope that I don’t let them down.”
The first Muslim woman elected to Federal Parliament said diversity was important for the country.
“I think having a diverse parliament in the very trying times is an absolute positive and bodes well for the future of Australia,” she said.
“I think it’s going to make for some very robust discussion and I’m looking forward to that.
“I do hope that those debates can be had respectfully and… in a manner that is informed and that’s what I hope to bring.”
She said the “negative smear campaign” against her, led by Stirling MHR Michael Keenan and reiterated by deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop and former Prime Minister John Howard, had backfired.
“Whether or not it actually helped, I think that’s a long shot to call, that’s a difficult call to make but I do believe it did backfire; it certainly didn’t lose me any votes,” she said.
Dr Aly said she would follow up on her campaign promise of funding for overpasses at the Wanneroo and Ocean Reef roads and Wanneroo and Joondalup Drive intersections, as well as commitments made by the Liberal party.
She hoped to move into the electorate within the next few months.
“The first order of business is to get the house in order and to develop the priorities for Cowan, hand in hand with the people of Cowan,” she said.
“And get those lines of communication open to ensure that I am their representing the views and the desires, and the needs and the wants of the electorate.”